digital nomads

The Economist has a report on digital nomads, sometimes known as techno-Bedouins. since it looks like I'll be heading back to Australia, I'll no longer be one of these :) perhaps whilst on short trips. it's been great for the past 4 years though, but I've been missing home and friends so it'll be good to have a base again. it's amazing how long you can live without a fixed address though. moving from country to country - hotels and short term rental apartments. most of my life is now on the internet - might sound strange, but it's a good place to backup your files, as well as posting dvd backups back home. I read the first article about Nomad Cafe and this rings true. in many places I've been to cafes and there've been people logged in to their laptops. in Jerusalem cafes you often hear Americans talking on skype to their family (I assume) back home. sometimes there's two people at the table facing each other, each having a conversation with someone online.

Labour movement mentions examples of virtual office companies where the employees are all mobile / working from home or cafes.

Family ties article talks about networked technology bringing people together - families and friends staying in contact more often. children keeping in contact with their parents for longer.


James Katz at Rutgers calls the mobile phone a new sort of umbilical cord between children and their parents and wonders whether this might in some cases “retard maturation”. Sherry Turkle, the psychologist at MIT, says that wireless gadgets are, ironically, a “tethering technology” and create new dependencies that delay the important “Huck Finn moment” in young lives when adolescents first realise that they are alone on the urban equivalent of the Mississippi. Getting drunk and lost after a party is different when one push of a button summons the parental chauffeur. In 2005 a psychology professor at Middlebury College in Vermont found that undergraduates were communicating with their parents, on average, more than ten times a week.

in Japan, studies have shown :


Mobile technology also tethers couples, especially young ones, but in a different way. Mimi Ito, an anthropologist who studies the effects of mobile technology on youth culture in Japan and America, has found that Japanese lovers send constant text messages to avoid parental rules and to stay connected emotionally when they are physically separated. Every nomadic culture has its idiosyncrasies, and the Japanese speciality is a rich vocabulary of “emoticons”: “I really want to see you (>_<)”; “I feel like I am going to be sick (;_;)”.

This steady stream of emoticons and photos in between physical “flesh meets” amounts to “tele-nesting”, says Ms Ito. It also spices up and prolongs the flesh meets. Young people in Tokyo, she has observed, will start their date by exchanging text messages all afternoon as they do homework or take the train to the rendezvous. At night, on their journey home after the actual date, they use messages again as “fading embers of conversation”, sometimes continuing for days and turning little memories into the couple's “lore”.

and even a personal mobile videoblogging & photoblogging / flickring tie in :

Often entire cliques do this sort of thing, creating, in effect, their own tribal medium and narrative. Ms Ito has noticed a new genre of photography on the rise as young people use their phones to snap photos of everyday situations—the view from the escalator on the way to school, say—which mean a lot to their friends and nothing to anybody else. They especially love photos that capture “dumb things that their friends do”, such as getting drunk and falling into puddles, which collectively amount to “everyday, casual documentaries” for a circle of friends.

another section talks about technology being not good for strangers :

Mr Ling, whose job includes loitering in public places for observation, watched a woman at an Oslo underground station who texted as she walked. She was wholly focused on her text message but had to look up occasionally to weave through the crowds on the platform. Other people were doing the same. It was an "atomised and individualised" scene, says Mr Ling: a new form of the proverbial lonely crowd.

But at least this particular Norwegian woman was signalling through her body language to all around her that she wanted to be left alone. The spread of "hands-free" Bluetooth devices, with hidden earplugs seemingly attached to nothing, is removing even those clues. Steve Love, a psychologist, was travelling on a train from Edinburgh to Glasgow once when a girl standing next to him started talking to him. She asked him how he was and how his day had been, and Mr Love, though a bit shy, politely told her how much he was looking forward to watching Scotland play football that evening. As he spoke, the girl looked at him in horror, then turned away. Only then did Mr Love hear her say "OK, I'll call you later." Not a word or gesture was exchanged for the remainder of the (suddenly uncomfortable) journey.

and the awkwardness of waiting for someone else you're with to finish a call :

Probably the single most common etiquette conflict occurs, as Mr Ling puts it, when mediated communication interrupts co-present communication, as when two or more people are sitting at a table in conversation or negotiation and one of them gets, and answers, a call. The other co-present people must now keep themselves busy while seeming nonchalant. What is more, they must pretend not to be eavesdropping even though they are only a few feet away from the mediated conversation, ideally by assuming a pose of concentration on some other object, such as their fingernails or their own phone. As soon as the intervening call ends, everybody must try to re-enter the co-present context as gracefully as possible.

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